Run public service message for rabies awareness: SHC

Seeks report on expenditure of funds earmarked for Rabies Control Programme

​ Our Correspondent March 20, 2020
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered on Thursday the provincial information department and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to run a public service message to raise awareness about rabies and the helpline for receiving complaints of dog-bite cases.

Hearing a plea pertaining to the abundance of stray dogs and non-availability of rabies vaccine, a two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, inquired whether the public service message was broadcast via electronic media.

Sindh local government secretary Roshan Ali Shaikh informed the court that not the message, but a documentary was broadcast on few television channels. At this, the court asked him to name the channels on which the documentary was played.

The secretary maintained before the court that the stray dogs were being neutered in Sindh.

He further informed the court that the Sindh government had earmarked Rs1.07 billion for the Rabies Control Programme and had, so far, released Rs260 million of the stated amount.

Later, a progress report on the issue was submitted to the court by district municipal corporations.

Directing the information department and PEMRA to run a public service message on rabies via the electronic media, the court also ordered to ensure the establishment of a helpline to receive complaints of dog-bite cases. Moreover, it sought a report on the expenditure of funds earmarked for Rabies Control Programme, ordering the relevant authorities to submit it at the next hearing on April 16.

Stay extended

Meanwhile, Justice Adnan Iqbal Chaudhry extended the stay issued on the plea filed by persons defrauded in the name of Fazaia Housing Scheme and sought replies on the plea from the federal government and other parties.

The court ordered the respondents to submit their replies at the next hearing.

At an earlier hearing, it had ordered that the bank accounts of the scheme be freezed.

According to the defrauded citizens’ petition, scores of people were allotted plots in the name of the housing scheme, which later turned out to be having no legal ground. While people spent huge amounts on the plots, the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) had declared the project “fraudulent,” stating that it was initiated without its approval, the plea maintains.

It further claims that the land for the scheme was also acquired illegally, as it belonged to the Sindh government and was intended for the K-IV water project.

The plea accuses Pakistan Air Force officers of colluding with the owners of Maxim Properties and robbing around 6,000 people of over Rs18 billion in the name of the scheme.

As per the plea, a no objection certificate was not obtained from the Malir Development Authority or SBCA for the project.

It states that the work on the project was stopped in 2017 but by then, people had invested large sums of money in the scheme. Later, the National Accountability Bureau arrested two of the persons accused of being involved in the scam but the citizens’ money is yet to be reimbursed, it maintains, moving the court to take strict action against all persons involved in the scam.

Replies sought

At another hearing, the bench comprising Justice Mazhar and Justice Sayeed issued notices to the social services secretary and other parties, seeking their replies on a plea pertaining to the non-functionality of Sindh Child Protection Agency.

Petitioner Advocate Ashfaq Ahmed claimed before the court that more than 360 children were used for illegal activities over the past five years in the province. “They are being used for drug peddling and abuse and other crimes,” he maintained.

He said that Sindh Child Protection Authority was established in 2011, with the aim to protect and rehabilitate children. However, it had been inactive till date, he stated and moved the court to order the Sindh government to make it functional, so as to ensure children’s safety.

The court sought replies from the social services secretary and other parties on the plea and adjourned the hearing till April 10.

Judges’ appointment

The bench also sought replies from the law secretary and other parties on a constitutional petition pertaining to the appointment of judges in district courts.

The petition maintains that there is a shortage of judges in courts in Sindh and as such, the backlog of cases is increasing. It complains that the Sindh government is not paying any heed to the problems, adding that the personal lives of the judges were being affected due to excessive workload.

The petition moves the court to order to appointment of two more judges for sessions courts, 10 more for additional courts and as many civil judges, another 10 judicial magistrates and 10 judges in family courts.

It further pleads the court to order the appointment for five more judges in anti-terrorism courts, the National Accountability Bureau, and banking courts each, as well as the appointment of an additional magistrate in the jurisdiction of each police station.

The court has ordered the parties to submit replies on the plea by April 7.

IMF loan

The same bench sought replies from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Ministry of Finance over a plea challenging the federal government on collecting the third installment of the loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

At the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel stated that the respondents had not submitted replies on the plea yet.

At this, the court issued notice to SBP and the Ministry of Finance to submit replies on the plea at the next hearing, under any circumstances.

The court adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.

According to the petition, the federal government will receive $452 million in loans as the third installment under the IMF package, however, the law does not allow borrowing an amount that is more than 60 per cent of the gross domestic product. The government has already taken a huge loan from IMF and as such, it should be restricted from taking any further loans from the international body, the plea moves the court.

Bail plea

Meanwhile, Justice Aftab Gorar directed the petitioner and his counsel to ensure attendance at the next hearing of the bail plea of Adil Zaman, a co-accused in anchorperson Mureed Abbas’ murder case, on April 2.

Zaman and his counsel did not appear before the court at the hearing.

“They didn’t even attend the last hearing,” complained the accused’s counsel to the court.

At this, the court issued directives for Zaman and his counsel to ensure attendance at the next hearing on April 2.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2020.


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